French Open Tennis 2014: Top Storylines to Watch from Roland Garros

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 24, 2014

Defending champions Serena Williams, of the U.S, left, and Spain's Rafael Nadal pose during the draw for the French Open Tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Friday, May 23, 2014. The French Open tennis tournament starts Sunday. At left is the women's trophy, at right, the men's trophy. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

The 2014 French Open is chock full of the world's brightest stars.

If Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are to successfully defend their respective titles, they will have to overcome some significant competition.

Neither defending champion drew favorably: Williams could face sister Venus in the third round and Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, while Nadal could possibly face Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round and David Ferrer in the quarterfinals.

Needless to say, it won't be easy for anyone.

As these athletes prepare to compete on one of tennis' biggest stages, let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines to watch this year at Roland Garros.


The Fatigued Roger Federer

ROME, ITALY - MAY 14:  Roger Federer of Switzerland in action in his match against Jeremy Chardy of France during day four of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis 2014 on May 14, 2014 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

First off, kudos to Federer for becoming the proud father of a second set of twins. It should be safe to say he's learned a whole new meaning to the word fatigued.

Despite this, his new role as a father of four may prove to be a slight hindrance at the French Open.

Having two infants around can lead to a lack of rest—and possibly a lack of preparation for the tournament. However, according to a press conference with, Federer doesn't appear fazed:

[Leo and Lenny] sleep that much that I don't feel bad yet [about] going out of the room and coming back. Because I was [at] home and it gave me more time to train, I think I have become a touch stronger in the last few weeks and months really.

Things are fairly normal. Clearly, there is a bit more happening, but Mirka takes care of most of it. I hold them as much as I can, but I clearly also want to go out and about with the girls [Charlene and Myla Rose].

Apparently, Federer is actually feeling stronger now. However, it's yet to be seen if his on-court play will be affected.

TennisNow tweeted Federer's favorable draw:

Luckily for him, Federer shouldn't be strenuously tested in the early rounds of the tournament, which should give him plenty of time to establish some momentum and polish his form ahead of the tournament's later rounds.


Can Novak Djokovic Finally Complete Career Grand Slam?

Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

The French Open is the final tournament Djokovic needs to win to complete his career Grand Slam.

This year, his chances look very favorable.

Djokovic comes into the French Open with a great amount of momentum on his side, having recently defeated Nadal at the Rome Masters. However, in Paris, it's been Nadal who's emerged victorious in the past against Djokovic.

Djokovic spoke of his mentality coming into the tournament during a press conference, via The Sydney Morning Herald:

The tournament win in Rome came at the right moment for me. For my confidence level, it's definitely a booster and positive thing and hopefully I can carry that confidence coming into Roland Garros.

It's obviously different than the Rome tournament. It's a grand slam. It's a two week long event, best of five [sets] and there is a feeling that most, almost all of the players who are participating in the event have an extra motivation to perform well in this tournament comparing to the other events.

Since his last loss against Nadal, Djokovic is 4-0 against the French Open's top-seeded player. After a favorable draw, Djokovic should clear the early rounds of the tournament with little issue.

Even oddsmakers see Djokovic as an early favorite in the tournament, according to a tweet from Live Tennis:

We could be in store for an epic showdown, as Djokovic attempts to finally emerge victorious at Roland Garros.


Serena Williams' Title Defense

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

At the age of 32, Grand Slams become an even higher priority for Williams.

With 17 major titles already under her belt over her illustrious career, Williams has a chance to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for second place in the Open era with 18 should she win in Paris.

However, she will most probably face a stern test early in the tournament; a quarterfinal date with Sharapova is a likely scenario.

Sharapova has been playing at a very high level on clay and dominated opponents in decisive fashion until a recent early exit in Rome. With a lack of momentum and a possible decrease in confidence, Williams has a great chance to strike while the iron's hot.

Here's a look at Williams' dominating performance at the Italian Open, via a tweet from Sports Illustrated:

Speaking of confidence, Williams has plenty of it after winning in Rome. She spoke briefly of her mindset entering the French Open during a press conference, via Jim Caple of ESPNW:

It was important for me, because I didn't get to play as much clay as I did last year. I had to stop in Madrid early, so I wasn't even sure if I was going to play Rome. Then to come out and win gave me a lot of confidence. I got a lot of matches in there and I needed those matches. I felt good after them.

We'll see if Williams can keep her momentum going, successfully defend her title and move her way up the rankings of tennis' all-time greats.